The U.S. House of Representatives pushed forward a new bill expanding tax credits for families, exposing a rift among conservatives over whether to back a pro-family policy or oppose the bill as a costly expansion of the welfare state.
The House passed a bill on Wednesday with bipartisan support that reforms and expands the Child Tax Credit until 2025 after it had previously expired in 2022. The debate over the child tax credit exposes differing opinions among conservatives over family policy, with some seeking tighter restrictions on tax breaks for families to ensure people remain in the workforce, while others are willing to take the risk of people not working if it means supporting families.
Duncan Braid, coalition director at American Compass, disagrees that lowering the income requirements to the proposed degree will hurt incentives as long as there is still an income requirement. He points to the unlikeliness that nearly three-quarters of a million people will choose to give up their income for a year just because they can receive a tax credit.
“Think about the struggles of a single parent earning $40,000 a year,” Braid told the DCNF. “Are they going to be able to forego that income? Maybe a single person in America might make this choice, but 700,000 people will bounce in and out of the workforce because of this change in the credit? It just doesn’t pass the smell test.”
Tax benefits targeted toward families receive large support from conservatives due to their reduction in taxes and encouragement of family values, but where conservatives differ is what requirements are needed to ensure that they do not expand the welfare state and discourage Americans from working. Some Republicans, like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, also object to the expansion of entitlement programs without a solid way to pay for them due to the country’s massive deficit and debt, according to CNN.
“We support a benefit tied to work, and we have experienced previous iterations like the Great Society welfare programs that did encourage idleness,” Braid told the DNCF. “Those programs clearly did encourage people to leave the workforce or not go into the workforce and not get married. And this is why tying this provision to prior-year income is so important. Because it will encourage people to work, and that’s kind of the key difference between the assertions that this is going to expand the welfare state.”
Oren and Chris weigh in on the ongoing fight over the Child Tax Credit and discuss more broadly the question of how conservatives should think about supporting families—without getting mired in 30-year-old fights about welfare.
Strengthening support for working families is not just a popular priority, but a conservative one.
But older anti-government institutions still need to realise that the mistakes of the 1960s are not being repeated